Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a staunch believer in open government, famously said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Transparency enables the American people to hold their government accountable and to engage in the democratic process. Unfortunately, eleven Republican Senators are trying to deny a full and open debate on the next nominee to the Supreme Court – BEFORE that individual has even been named.
The Senate Judiciary Committee began its practice of holding public hearings on Supreme Court nominees a century ago, in 1916, and fittingly the nominee was Louis Brandeis. Since then, the Senate’s process for considering nominees to the highest court in the land has become more transparent and more accessible to the American people. In 1981, for example, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor made history in two ways – she was the first woman nominated to the Court, and her confirmation hearings were the first to be televised. Today, Americans can follow these important public confirmation proceedings through online webcasts, social media, and other platforms. These are positive steps towards opening up the highest court in the land to the Americans it affects.
Recently, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that they want to block this transparent process. They gathered in a closed-door, backroom meeting in the Capitol and unilaterally decided that the Senate Judiciary Committee would not consider any Supreme Court nominee this year. The meeting was closed to press, to the public, and to Democratic Senators who serve on the Judiciary Committee. In a letter to the Majority Leader after the meeting, Republican committee members justified their decision as one “born of a necessity to protect the will of the American people.” What are Republicans trying to protect Americans from? And what exactly was said during that closed-door meeting?
In my forty years in the Senate, every pending Supreme Court nominee has received a public hearing and a vote. This process has given Americans the opportunity to experience democracy in action. It is a chance to witness history in the making as Senators discuss with a Supreme Court nominee pressing issues about our democracy, our government, and crucial questions about our Constitution.
Meantime, the NY Times covers amicus briefs here:
As in all big Supreme Court cases these days, there were scores of supporting briefs filed in Wednesday’s showdown over a restrictive Texas abortion law.
From Our Advertisers
These friend-of-the-court filings — lawyers call them “amicus curiae briefs” — were diverse, but they were not random. They were the product of a coordinated campaign of judicial lobbying called “the amicus machine,” according to a new study based on interviews with more than 20 leading Supreme Court lawyers.
The teams preparing for major Supreme Court cases must now include two new members, the study said: the amicus wrangler and the amicus whisperer.
“The wrangler is gathering the troops,” said Allison Orr Larsen, a professor at William and Mary Law School and one of the study’s authors, “and the whisperer is coordinating the message.”
Finally, Joe Biden has an idea -- nominate Cruz to the Supreme Court:
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had some tongue-in-cheek advice for President Obama on Saturday about whom he should nominate to fill the Supreme Court vacancy that has preoccupied the White House and incited an election-year fight.
Choose Senator Ted Cruz, Mr. Biden joked, referring to the Republican presidential candidate from Texas, who is unpopular with his colleagues.
“Look, I told Barack if you really, really want to remake the Supreme Court, nominate Cruz,” Mr. Biden said at the annual Gridiron Dinner, according to excerpts from his prepared speech released by his office. “Before you know it, you’ll have eight vacancies.”
It was more than just a humorous dig at Mr. Cruz during the traditional Washington event, where politicians roast themselves in speeches and journalists lampoon them in musical skits. Mr. Biden’s remarks hit on the historic stakes facing the president as he ponders his choice to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, leaving Mr. Obama with a chance to fundamentally reshape the nation’s highest court by replacing its leading conservative.